Alexa PenaVega loves her faith, family, the outdoors and filming
Alexa PenaVega keeps herself busy with her family YouTube channel that she does with husband Carlos PenaVega, being an active mom to her two-year-old son Ocean, and stars in Hallmark movie Christmas Made to Order that will air on Dec. 23, but for many of her fans, she will always be loved for her portrayal of Carmen Cortez in the popular Spy Kids films.
Alexa PenaVega has never stopped working. She has appeared in many hit TV shows including The Bernie Mac Show, ER and Ghost Whisperer. She also starred as Ruby from the ABC Family series Ruby and the Rockets. She stared in the 21st season of Dancing with the Stars where she was partnered with Mark Ballas and finished the competition in 6th place.
PenaVega who is originally from Miami, married Carlos PenaVega in 2014. They have a two-year-old son named Ocean. This outdoorsy family lives in Hawaii.
The lovely and oh-so-positive Alexa PenaVega spoke with Michelle Tompkins for The Hollywood Digest about motherhood, her plans for the holidays, how she incorporates her Latin culture into her holiday traditions, how she conquers who own insecurities, what makes her new Hallmark movie Christmas Made to Order special, where we can see her next and more.
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Quick W.O.W (Words of Wisdom) My beautiful rockstar sister in Christ came up to me today during worship… God had put this on her heart… “I feel like I am supposed to remind you that You can armor up… but that You need a garment or a cloak of Holy Spirit to cover your back. Garment just keeps coming to mind.” As I prayed on this and wrestled with what that meant during service it hit me! The gift of having Holy Spirit within us is like a super power. When I am on fire on my walk I literally feel like a super hero. I ran up to @shanise_leilani after church CHARGED!!! GIRL!!!! I gotta put on my cape!!! The Holy Spirit is our super power. We can’t do it alone. So I gotta remember that I have access to that cape “Holy Spirit” ALL THE TIME!!! Sometimes we have to change our perspective to remember the importance/power of what something holds. Sure, I know God is amazing and loving and powerful… but if my Father were literally Superman how would I walk around? I would feel untouchable!!! I would feel so stinking cool!!! Man, our God is Superman times a million. So, I gotta start walkin’ around remembering WHO I am and WHOSE I am. 😎❤️✝️
Michelle Tompkins: How is Ocean doing?
Alexa PenaVega: Huge. Oh my gosh. I just don’t know. The baby phase has just left. And it’s so heartbreaking, that also this is my favorite phase with him. He is just blossoming so much, such a little boy. He loves to wrestle, and play with his cars, and just play in the mud. He is just fun. Hey dude. Right now he is climbing the stairs. He doesn’t like ever using hands. So he goes up and down the stairs so fast, with no hands. And we’re just like how have you survived [laughter] this house. But he is just the greatest thing ever.
Michelle Tompkins: How old is he?
Alexa PenaVega: He just turned two on the 7th.
Michelle Tompkins: Wow.
Alexa PenaVega: Yeah. Yeah. And he has his two cars right now, yellow and red. He gets so excited. He is showing grandpa right now. Good job, buddy, good job. [laughter] Oh, he is really such a good boy, but yeah, huge, huge. He is in the 95% [inaudible] and everything, weight, height, which is shocking because my husband and I are small people. He is not small. [laughter]
Alexa PenaVega discusses her new projects
Michelle Tompkins: What’s new these days?
Alexa PenaVega: We love Hallmark. So it has kept us very, very busy, so traveling a lot, doing different projects for Hallmark. Carlos and I, and actually, and Ocean as well, we were so blessed to be named God family, the first ever God family of a cruise ship. So we launched Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas, which is currently the largest cruise ship in the world. And that had to be probably one of the coolest things ever. We’re obsessed with cruising. And to be able to have that, it’s such a maritime tradition. So to be named God Family, it’s a big thing. We were freaking out.
Michelle Tompkins: That sounds exciting. You love water.
Alexa PenaVega: I love the water. We are both obsessed with the water. Cruising, we just feel like it’s the ultimate vacation. Because you have everything right there, especially if you are a family. You are able to let the kids run around. There are babysitting services, and kids clubs being going to. If your kids are older, it gives them a chance to kind of do their own thing on the ship, because there is nowhere they can get lost. And then be there for dinner. So it’s pretty awesome.
Michelle Tompkins: And you live in Hawaii now, is that right?
Alexa PenaVega: We do, we do. We live in Hawaii.
Alexa PenaVega talks about Spy Kids
Michelle Tompkins: I am going to go back in time a little bit. Spy Kids is really so part of everyone’s childhood. It has really withstood the test of time. What’s your favorite thing about being associated with it?
Alexa PenaVega: I just loved how it just really empowers kids. Especially at that time, we didn’t have projects like that. We just had cute little kid shows, and kid movies which were fun. But it was never kids being able to be the ones in charge, who really took calls and matters into their own hands. I mean, I had Home Alone, and I loved Home Alone. And I loved that because he defeated the bad guys on his own. But when you something like five kids, where you can be a member of this ultimate, spy network, basically the CIA. For kids, it was so fun, and again, it was just really empowering, and I think it still does that for kids. And it sent such a positive message at the end of the movie.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, when people approach you about Spy Kids, what did they typically ask you?
Alexa PenaVega: You know what they actually say? There’s a line in the movie and it was an ad lib, because I thought it wasn’t funny and that it stunk, but I say, “Oh shiitake mushrooms,” because obviously we’re kids and we don’t curse, but it was just a funny thing. And Robert was like, “We have to keep that. We have to keep that and we’re going to do that in all the movies.” So it became a thing, but now when people walk up to me, they don’t ask me questions or anything. The first thing they say is, “Oh shiitake mushrooms!” [laughter] It was like the one way that kids could kind of get away with cursing—growing up without cursing [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: A good way to get around that one.
Alexa PenaVega: Yeah, [laughter] not that I condone cursing. I’m just saying it was just funny.
Michelle Tompkins: Well coming up— but, everyone has a word that isn’t meant to be good. Like in Peanuts they say “Rats” or “Good Grief.”
Alexa PenaVega: Yeah. You turn it into whatever you want it to be. It’s, like even my husband on the first night I met him, he ran over to the car and he’s like, ‘Hey, hey, hey!’ He’s like, ‘roll down your window. ’And I was like, ‘Yeah. Yeah, what’s up?’ And said, ‘Oh shiitake mushrooms!’
I thought, ‘That’s your pick up line?’ It was so funny! But hey, it worked! We’re married, we have a kid.
Michelle Tompkins: Now please tell me about your new Christmas movie.
Alexa PenaVega: You know what? I’m so used to my husband being with me, but this time I was on my own and it’s super, super cute. I’m obsessed with the holidays so I really like Hallmark Christmas movies, because they really go all out, like above and beyond. But basically I play this catalog decorator who— that’s her day job, but truly she’s a holiday decorator at heart. So she’ll go, and if you’re in any kind of office and you need an Easter decoration, Fourth of July, or whatever, that’s where she really, really shines. So she goes out and she starts decorating, but her goal is to make this her full-time job. And then she ends up running into the Grinch of Christmas, this guy who has zero Christmas spirit whatsoever.
It turns out his family is coming to town and he sucks at Christmas. So he hires me to be a personal Christmas decorator and her challenge is to try to help him understand the Christmas spirit, but while also being graceful with him. So it’s really– it’s fun, it’s sweet, it’s very romantic, and truly an ensemble, because we have the cast who plays his family there for a lot of the scenes. And they were just so fun and made the movie just really, really easy and exciting.
Michelle Tompkins: What’s the name of the movie?
Alexa PenaVega: It’s called Christmas Made to Order.
Michelle Tompkins: And it runs when?
Alexa PenaVega: December 23. And Carlos has one too coming out too. His comes out December 29th.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, what is his?
Alexa PenaVega: His is called A Midnight Kiss. So they’re Christmas movies, but his is mainly a New Year’s movie.
Michelle Tompkins: Okay. Well, we’ll give him a little love too.
Alexa PenaVega: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Michelle Tompkins: What are your plans for Christmas?
Alexa PenaVega: It’s just been really nice. We haven’t been home for the last few holidays and I’m a sucker for Christmas. I am that person who sings Christmas songs All year round, I am that annoying person. And I know it drives people nuts but I love it. And I would keep my Christmas tree up all year round if my husband would go with it.
One of traditions that we really love is that we make homemade caramel, and we wrap them all individually and we put them into little mason jars and they make the best gifts. And they taste amazing. So we’re going to get in caramel-making time this next week, but just being home. It’s just really nice to kind of settle down and not have anywhere to go.
Michelle Tompkins: And you’re a Latina, do you ever bring Latina flair to your Christmas?
Alexa PenaVega: Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? Yes. So last night we had this Ohana party— so here Ohana means family. So it’s kind of like this little family group that gets together, and it was our Christmas party. And I made something called arepas, which are – I don’t know how to explain it. It’s—
Michelle Tompkins: I love arepas. They’re corn pockets. They’re a finger food. They are so good.
Alexa PenaVega: Yeah, so you know what they are.
Michelle Tompkins: Yeah, I’m Puerto Rican so I understand.
Alexa PenaVega: Perfect. Because a lot of people don’t know what they are so to try to explain that to somebody who doesn’t know, I’m like it’s corn, but it’s not sweet. Everybody associates it with sweet, and it’s not cornbread.
So I make arepas, so I brought them last night to the party and everyone is freaking out because they’re like, ‘What are these things? They’re amazing.’ And our property out here, we have like thousands of avocado on our tree. I mean just so many avocados, so I brought a whole bunch of fresh avocados so they could slice them up and put them on the arepas. It’s just funny though because it is such a thing in our culture to just eat arepas whenever, but if you’ve never had them, how do you try to explain them to someone who doesn’t understand what it is because it’s corn, but everybody thinks corn is sweet, which it is, but it’s not. In an arepa, it’s like salty, savory goodness. [laughter]
Michelle Tompkins: It is. So we’ll educate the world on that together.
Alexa PenaVega: Yeah, make some Christmas arepas to cure all of our foodie needs.
Michelle Tompkins: Now is there any charity work that you’d like to mention?
Alexa PenaVega: You know what, so I need to get involved with real charity work. Because we do a lot of work at our church a lot. My husband is non-stop. It’s this cool, really local spot on the island. The nicest people, I mean people who just serve all the time. And so we work a lot with our church, but we really do want to start getting involved with charities outside of that.
Do you know who Christine Caine is?
Michelle Tompkins: I do not.
Alexa PenaVega: Christine Caine, she’s doing this thing, it’s called the A21 Campaign end slavery and help the girls once they are safe. She works with the girls, they all get therapy. They all get all the time and housing, and everything that they need. And then from there, they’re then supplied jobs and opportunities. So it’s a full-on life recovery mission which is really, really cool. If you look up Christine Caine you will learn more about her amazing work.
Michelle Tompkins: Now I remember that you are a real outdoor girl but what are some of the things you like to do for fun?
Alexa PenaVega: So, yeah. Fishing would be number one [laughter]. It’s just that there’s something about fishing I’ve always loved. It’s exciting, it feels good and just really people? Because we’re in a thresh of fast-paced time where everything is like, ‘Instant gratification! Go! Go! Go! I’ll forward! Let me just look at my phone. Now I’ll be occupied for the next five minutes until somebody calls me or texts me or something.’ And with microfishing it just takes you away from all that. It forces you to sit still and the exciting of like, ‘Am I going to catch something? Is it going to happen now?’
I think overall it’s just a really healthy, fun thing to do. So fishing is number one. But we just moved to a larger property here on Island and we have a ton of fruit trees, a ton of different vegetation so kind of maintaining the land has just become my second hobby currently and learning because I don’t know, I don’t know how to cultivate land and grow plants and all that stuff. I was never that person. So kind of learning how to keep things alive [laughter] has been really fun and very therapeutic.
Alexa PenaVega opens up on how she battles and defeats her insecurities
Michelle Tompkins: I bet it would be. What’s something you want people to know about you?
Alexa PenaVega: Something. Oh my gosh, I’d been such an open book I feel like [laughter]. You can look at our Instagram and you know really quickly who we are. But something, you know what? That I actually battle with insecurity a lot and it’s something that I feel like I have to overcome daily.
Michelle Tompkins: Okay. How do you do it?
Alexa PenaVega: My faith has been hugely important but just reminding myself, there’s this woman who is absolutely amazing and she gave me this little note thing and she goes, ‘Don’t forget to remind yourself of these things every morning.’ And so basically you have to look at yourself which I couldn’t even do in the beginning but basically like you say, ‘I am special. I am strong. I am loved.’ Kind of this whole list of things.
It happens to be a face-based version which is kind of like reminding myself who I am in God’s eyes. And it’s just so beautiful to have that reminder because here’s the thing, with social media, with press and everything outed and everybody’s got an opinion and people are very very vocal about it which is fine and I know that’s the industry I’m in and I’ve chosen that but it’s so easy. You can see a hundred nice comments but that one bad comment sticks out so much and we dwell on that and we remember that and we soak that in and it’s the dumbest thing ever because it’s just one comment out of a hundred, right? But it really affects you and has an impact.
So it’s just reminding myself of like, ‘That stuff does not matter. Who are you at your core? That’s what matters.’ So I don’t need to be insecure because I’m a strong, powerful woman, I’m a strong powerful mama, I’m a great wife, a great daughter [laughter]. So it’s just reminding we don’t need to compare because we’re all given individual gifts and we’re each uniquely awesome and special in our own way. Because if we were all the same and looked like each other and all were actors or all were journalists or whatever it may be how boring would that be [laughter]? Why are we trying to emulate one another? We could be inspired by one another but we shouldn’t try to emulate other people.
Michelle Tompkins: Now how do you like your fans to connect with you?
Alexa PenaVega: So actually our favorite has been through our Youtube because we’ve started blogging as a family and a lot of the people on there didn’t even know we were actors. They thought we were just this awesome, cooky family who lived on an island and shared our adventures. And [laughter] it’s really fun and it’s really cool because we’ve been super honest about who we are.
We love the outdoors, we called time in our bible studies so we talk about our faith, we talk about our values and the whole thing has just been a really positive channel. So it’s like you go in and you look at the comments, everything is so uplifting. You have people on there telling their story and then other people commenting just being like, “Hey, I just want you to know I’m thinking about you, I’m praying for you.” Like, “I believe in you. I know you can follow your dreams.” Literally encouraging one another which is so rare to find in comment sections. Usually, it’s so bloated with negativity and we just love that we’ve been able to create a platform that just inspires and lets people up. So we’ll get on there and we’ll write them as well and it’s just been a really cool outlet all around.
Michelle Tompkins: So what’s next for you?
Alexa PenaVega: So Los and I actually have something called Mystery Wheel happening for Hallmark on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries and basically, if all goes well, the goal is that they do well and we get to do like 15 of these. But next year we’re supposed to film three mystery movies for Hallmark back to back and they’ll be almost like a miniseries in a way but movies. And that’s just super fun. Carlos is kind of like the straight-laced police officer but like a detective guy who doesn’t break the rules and here I am, I’m this crazy videographer who tries catch awesome stories to sell to different news channels and she just does not follow any rules. She goes to the beat of her own drum. And it’s really fun. I’m excited.
Michelle Tompkins: It sounds good. Do you have a message for your fans?
Alexa PenaVega: Believe in yourself even if you have to remind yourself daily but don’t forget to fight for yourself.